KISSIMMEE | Violet, golden bronze, shades of gray and blue – these are the glorious colors that bring to life the new 13 x 13 foot mural in the vestibule of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Kissimmee. Artist Gladys Torres spent 9 months sketching, molding and piecing together the sacred art. She calls it, “Santa Catalina Digna del Cielo” (St. Catherine Worthy of Heaven). St. Catherine is seen wearing the crown of thorns in heaven with Jesus Christ.
Torres drew in inspiration from Psalm 145:1, “I will extol you, my God and King; I will bless your name forever and ever.”
“I’m grateful, happy and fortunate to be able to do this for God,” Torres said, standing in front of her masterpiece. It is a beautiful conclusion of a challenging, but faithful journey for her and her family.
Torres’ devotion to St. Catherine of Siena, began when her twin granddaughters, Mia and Marcela, were born on the Feast Day of St. Catherine last year. Born prematurely, Mia suffered intestinal complications. Torres felt called to seek help from the patroness against illness.
“Since the twins were born on the feast day of St. Catherine of Siena, we learned and fell in love with her story and asked for her intercession through Jesus Christ to save my granddaughters,” Torres said.
The artist made a promise to God to create something beautiful dedicated in honor of St. Catherine and donate it to the parish in gratitude. “I promised and felt compelled to do this mural (or act of charity) and I told Father, ‘Yes’.”
Whispers of “wow,” “that is beautiful,” and “Dios mío,” roared through the crowd at the unveiling of the mural on the saint’s feast day (April 29).
“Sacred art is a form of evangelization, a form of helping the faithful to enter more deeply into the mystery of our faith,” said parish pastor, Father José Bautista. “I am excited and truly grateful to Gladys for her gift of charity to our parish. It is such a remarkable lesson to love God in the way St. Catherine did.”
Standing beneath the mural, a testament to the promise she made a year ago to Jesus, Torres smiled joyfully with healthy Mia and Marcela in her arms. “This is a gift. I feel very grateful that the Lord heard my cry,” she said. “I felt hugged by Jesus Christ through the intercession of St. Catherine of Siena. I need to continue proclaiming His word every single day.”
Katherine Laguna, special to the Florida Catholic, May 5, 2021